Public Sector Accounting and Auditing in Europe. The Challenge of Harmonization

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The purpose of the book is to compare the accounting and auditing systems of public administrations in Europe in order to identify the differences and similarities and the extent to which harmonization is a reasonable aim. To achieve this general objective, the book covers four more specific objectives. Firstly, it offers a conceptual analysis of the harmonization of public sector accounting in Europe. Secondly the book analyses the situation in 14 selected European countries in accounting, budgeting, financial reporting and auditing at the three levels of government (central, local and regional government). Thirdly, the book aims to perform a comparative analysis of each of these areas in the selected countries in order to show the level of harmonization in each of them. Fourthly, based on the previous analyses, the book aims to offer an insight on the challenges for harmonization in these countries, bearing in mind that this is on the agenda of the European Union at the moment. Accounting harmonization is at present an area of great interest in research, in practice and for policy-makers. In the last decade, an important stream of literature has been dedicated to this field and many studies have analyzed what are the reasons and advantages that accounting harmonization can have in the public sector, as well as the difficulties and obstacles that must be overcome. Furthermore, some studies contain interesting analyses for individual countries or even comparative analysis between a reduced number countries and refer to the main differences and similarities. However, none of them covers a comparative analysis with a deep study of the characteristics of the countries analyzed. At the political level, the European Union is working towards the development of common accounting standards between European countries; this is the objective of European Public Sector Accounting Standards (EPSASs) project, which will take the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSASs) as reference. Considering the above framework, it can be said that the book covers an interesting and timely topic with up-dated materials about public sector accounting and auditing in different European countries, taking into account the situation and the challenges that EPSAS have in the countries studied. Furthermore, as we will see in next section it covers an existing gap in the literature.